Agriculture, Behaviour, Latest, Research

349. Adoption pathways analysis

Adoption of new practices in agriculture is dynamic – farmers go through different stages in the adoption process over time. It is also heterogeneous across the farming population, with different farmers following different pathways and stopping at different points. How can we represent this graphically for a particular practice and a particular group of farmers?

Oscar Montes has just finished his PhD at UWA and, with perfect timing, a paper from his thesis has just come out in the journal Agricultural Systems. Oscar’s research has been a deep dive into various aspects of agricultural adoption, trying to address some issues that are usually neglected in the existing literature.

One of those issues is that the adoption process is both dynamic and diverse – it is different for different farmers. In thinking about this, Oscar came up with a fantastic way to represent this in a diagram. Here is an example.

This is for a particular farming practice and a particular group of New Zealand farmers. It shows how many of a sample of 69 farmers were aware of the practice, how many started or didn’t start using it, how many farmers trialed it, and what has happened since their initial decision to use it.

This diagram provides a rich understanding of what goes on in the population of potential adopters over time – much richer than traditional ways of depicting the adoption process. Oscar has found that the detailed structure of the diagram is different for different practices, and I suspect that there are opportunities to learn really useful things from comparing the diagrams.

He also provides a somewhat similar diagram depicting what farmers are planning to do in future. This too seems very useful.

I’m hoping that people doing research on adoption of agricultural innovations will really embrace Oscar’s approach and start applying it in different contexts. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can learn from that.

The full paper is available for free until 30 June 2021. Go to the journal’s web site here:,70zHjdqq

Further reading

Montes de Oca Munguia, O., Pannell, D.J., Llewellyn, R. and Stahlmann-Brown, P. (2021). Adoption pathway analysis: Representing the dynamics and diversity of adoption for agricultural practices, Agricultural Systems 191, 103173. Journal web page